Archive | August, 2012

Dry Eye Disease Dr. Nathan Schramm, OD, CNS

30 Aug

Dr. Nathan Schramm, O.D., C.N.S.Over 3.2 million American women in the United States have Dry Eye Disease which, in severe cases, has been compared to be as debilitating as angina. It is more common in older women, but affects many women in their 40s and 50s. A transient blur to your vision that improves with blinking is usually associated with the beginning stages of Dry Eye Disease. Other signs include burning, tearing, foreign body sensation, and sometimes itching along the edges of the eyes.

Dry Eye is more common in women over 40 due to hormonal changes, poor diet (excess omega-Gs from processed foods, low intake of omega-3’s), contact lens use, dry environment (air conditioner, overhead fan), allergy medication, smoking, cosmetics, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s Disease, and diabetes.

Every 10 years you live you have a 20% greater chance of developing dry eyes. Fortunately, there is a natural treatment (and prevention) for this problem. For my patients with this condition, I recommend 800-900mg EPA/ 500- 600mg DHA of omega-3’s preferably from triglyceride based (TG)¬†fish oil; blackcurrant seed oil (omega-6) 160mg; and Astaxanthin 4 to 6mg. Along with the many benefits for the heart, brain, joints, hair, skin and nails, omega-3 fish oil can give you better quality tears. In addition, it may reduce your chances of developing wet macular degeneration. Omega-6 fatty acids have been clinically shown to increase tear production. But too much omega-6 can become inflammatory! The proper balance of omega-6 to omega-3 is between 4 to 1 and 1 to 1.

The typical American diet is about 15 to 1-very inflammatory! (There’s a blood test I use that calculates the patient’s ratio and amount of omega- 3’s in the blood.) To balance this ratio, limit vegetable oils (omega 6) from com and soybean, cottonseed and packaged foods, and eat more omega-3 rich foods like salmon, sardines, grass-fed beef, walnuts and flax seeds. A recent study revealed that women with a high intake of omega-3’s compared to those with a low intake had a 20% decreased risk in developing Dry Eye Disease. Astaxanthin is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that is found in red or pink colored fish such as non-farm raised, wild Alaskan Salmon (6 oz. serving contains about 6mg). I recommend Astaxanthin in conjunction with fish oil and blackcurrant seed oil to help quench the inflammatory cascade and to better stabilize the ocular tear film. Preservative- free artificial tears can be used until this combination takes effect. Eyes do not develop this condition overnight, so expect this natural treatment to take one to three months for full effect.

Dr. Nathan Schramm is an Optometric Physician and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. He is in practice with his wife, Dr. Julie Abraham in Weston, Florida.  Drs. Schramm and Abraham are currently accepting new patients and appointments can be made at 954-217-2992

This article does not replace the need for a yearly comprehensive eye exam by a qualified eye care professional.